Just a year after immersing himself on campus and in the Geneva community with stunning dance instruction and performances, acclaimed New York City-based choreographer Kyle Abraham has been named to the 2013 class of MacArthur Fellows by the MacArthur Foundation. He is among only 24 individuals recognized by the foundation as “exceptionally creative” and “with a track record of achievement and the potential for even more significant contributions in the future.”
Abraham probes the relationship between identity and personal history through a unique hybrid of traditional and vernacular dance styles that speaks to a new generation of dancers and audiences. He has diverse training in music, visual art, dance, and skills as a performer. His physical dances reflect the youthful energy of the hip-hop and urban dance he encountered at a young age, mixed with modern dance technique as well.
Abraham and his company, Abraham.In.Motion (AIM) packed in many events during last year’s residency at HWS in October. There were two master classes and workshops on campus and two Geneva community outreach events, as well as a culminating performance of “Pavement,” an evening-length dance piece, the last day of their visit.
Professor of Dance Cynthia Williams was first drawn to Abraham’s work when she saw “The Radio Show” in 2011, and began conversations with Abraham at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in the summer of 2011 about bringing his company to Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
“Kyle’s work is powerful,” Williams noted prior to his residency. “The questions he explores are gritty and relevant; his choreography is visually stunning: expansive gestures, movement that transforms from fluid undulations to explosive energy, and an emotional content that reaches everyone in the audience.”
Abraham received a B.F.A. (2000) from SUNY Purchase and an M.F.A. (2006) from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. His choreographic works have been performed by both his company, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.in.Motion (founded in 2006), and others at such venues as Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the Joyce Theatre, Harlem Stage, Danspace Project, On the Boards, the Kelly-Strahorn Theater (Pittsburgh), and REDCAT (Los Angeles), among many others.
Abraham and his company have been praised for their work, including being named as one of Dance Magazine’s “25 To Watch,” an Individual Artist Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and being described by OUT Magazine as one of “the best and brightest creative talents to emerge in New York City in the age of Obama.”
On its website, the MacArthur Foundation says of him, “Although early in his career, Abraham is establishing a singular choreographic style and creative vision for exploring important contemporary issues with a clarity and beauty that resonates with a wide range of audiences.”
The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. The foundation also works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. The Foundation is one of the nation’s largest independent foundations. The range of grants is from $10,000 to $9.7 million per foundation recipient.